Luke 10:40
But Martha was encumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(40) Martha was cumbered.—Literally, was distracted; drawn hither and thither by conflicting cares.

About much serving.—We may probably infer from this that our Lord had been invited as an honoured guest, and that Mary had been asked to meet Him; and, so far, the narrative agrees with what is suggested by the narrative of John 11 as to the social position of the household at Bethany. The use of a like word in Luke 12:42 suggests that this also may have passed from the abstract to the concrete sense, and have been used for a household of many servants as well as for the act of serving.

Came to him.—The Greek word implies something like a hasty movement to interrupt the calm tenor of the Lord’s discourse. The hasty vehement complaint that follows is quite in keeping with this.

That she help me.—More literally, that she join in helping.

10:38-42 A good sermon is not the worse for being preached in a house; and the visits of our friends should be so managed, as to make them turn to the good of their souls. Sitting at Christ's feet, signifies readiness to receive his word, and submission to the guidance of it. Martha was providing for the entertainment of Christ, and those that came with him. Here were respect to our Lord Jesus and right care of her household affairs. But there was something to be blamed. She was for much serving; plenty, variety, and exactness. Worldly business is a snare to us, when it hinders us from serving God, and getting good to our souls. What needless time is wasted, and expense often laid out, even in entertaining professors of the gospel! Though Martha was on this occasion faulty, yet she was a true believer, and in her general conduct did not neglect the one thing needful. The favour of God is needful to our happiness; the salvation of Christ is needful to our safety. Where this is attended to, all other things will be rightly pursued. Christ declared, Mary hath chosen the good part. For one thing is needful, this one thing that she has done, to give up herself to the guidance of Christ. The things of this life will be taken away from us, at the furthest, when we shall be taken away from them; but nothing shall separate from the love of Christ, and a part in that love. Men and devils cannot take it away from us, and God and Christ will not. Let us mind the one thing needful more diligently.Martha was cumbered about much serving - Was much distracted with the cares of the family, and providing suitably to entertain the Saviour. It should be said here that there is no evidence that Martha had a worldly or covetous disposition. Her anxiety was to provide suitable entertainment for the Lord Jesus. As mistress of the family, this care properly devolved on her; and the only fault which can be charged on her was too earnest a desire to make such entertainment, when she might have sat with Mary at his feet, and, perhaps, too much haste and fretfulness in speaking to Jesus about Mary.

Dost thou not care ... - This was an improper reproof of our Lord, as if "he" encouraged Mary in neglecting her duty. Or perhaps Martha supposed that Mary was sitting there to show him the proper expressions of courtesy and kindness, and that she would not think it proper to leave him without his direction and permission. She therefore "hinted" to Jesus her busy employments, her need of the aid of her sister, and requested that he would signify his wish that Mary should assist her.

40. cumbered—"distracted."

came to him—"presented herself before Him," as from another apartment, in which her sister had "left her to serve (or make preparation) alone."

carest thou not … my sister, &c.—"Lord, here am I with everything to do, and this sister of mine will not lay a hand to anything; thus I miss something from Thy lips, and Thou from our hands."

bid her, &c.—She presumes not to stop Christ's teaching by calling her sister away, and thus leaving Him without His one auditor, nor did she hope perhaps to succeed if she had tried.

Two things are blameable in Martha:

1. That she made too much ado about the entertainment of our Saviour. That she entertained our Saviour she did well; but herein she erred, that she made her entertainment of him so troublesome, as it would not give her leave to take that advantage, which she might, or ought to have done, from the entertainment of a prophet.

2. That she is displeased with her sister because she would not lend her hand, but chose rather to sit at Christ’s feet and hear his word, and desireth Christ to send her away to her assistance. But Martha was cumbered about much serving,.... "Or was drawn off", from hearing the word, from attending on Christ; being taken up in providing for him, and those that came with him; in dressing food, or in ordering her servants, how she would have every thing done, and in overlooking them, that every thing was done in proper order; so that she had a great deal of business upon her head and hands, which distracted her thoughts, or took them off of divine things, and put her in great hurry and concern. The Ethiopic version renders it, "Martha laboured in preparing many things for him"; making a large and sumptuous entertainment: and the Persic version, which is rather a comment than a translation, renders it, "Martha was busied in preparing food, and making a feast": sparing no cost nor pains, thinking nothing too good, nor too grand, for such a guest she had in her house:

and she came to him and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? she came to him; that is, to Jesus, as the Persic version expresses it: she came out of the room where she was getting ready the entertainment, into the room where Christ was preaching; and, as the Vulgate Latin, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions read, "she stood and said": she did not sit down at his feet, as Mary did, to hear his word, but stood as about to go away again, after she had said what she came about: she did not think fit to speak to Mary herself, though perhaps she might do that first; who, showing an unwillingness to go with her, she therefore applies to Christ, as believing that he would, with her, look upon it as a very reasonable thing that she should take her part with her; and that a word from him would go a great way with her sister. And she seems to speak, not only by way of complaint of Mary, who had left her to prepare and serve up this entertainment alone; but even of Christ himself, in some sort, as if he had not showed that care and concern in this matter, which she thought was necessary. However, she was willing to have his sense of her sister's conduct, and hoped, and even doubted not, but that he would be of the same mind with herself:

bid her therefore that she help me; that she join, assist, and put an helping hand in this service; speak but a word to her, give her orders, and she will observe and obey.

But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Luke 10:40. ἡ δὲ Μάρ., but Martha, δὲ as if μὲν had gone before where καὶ is = Mary on the one hand sat, etc., Martha on the other, etc.—περιεσπᾶτο, was distracted, over-occupied, as if the visit had been unexpected, and the guests numerous. In use from Xenophon down. In Polybius with τῇ διανοίᾳ added. Holtzmann (H. C.) points out the correspondence between the contrasted picture of the two sisters and the antithesis between the married and unmarried woman in 1 Corinthians 7:34-35. The married woman caring for the world like Martha (μεριμνᾷς, Luke 10:41); the unmarried virgin: εὐπάρεδρον τ. κυρίῳ ἀπερισπάστως.—ἐπιστᾶσα, coming up to and placing herself beside Jesus and Mary: in no placid mood, looking on her sister as simply an idle woman. A bustled worthy housewife will speak her mind in such a case, even though a Jesus be present and come in for a share of the blame.—συναντιλάβηται, bid her take a hand along with me in the work (cf. Romans 8:26).40. cumbered about much serving] The word for “cumbered” literally means ‘was being dragged in different directions,’ i.e. was distracted (1 Corinthians 7:35). She was anxious to give her Lord a most hospitable reception, and was vexed at the contemplative humility which she regarded as slothfulness.

came to him] Rather, but suddenly coming up (Luke 20:1; Acts 23:27). We see in this inimitable touch the little petulant outburst of jealousy in the loving, busy matron, as she hurried in with the words, “Why is Mary sitting there doing nothing?”

left me] The Greek word means ‘left me alone in the middle of my work’ to come and listen to you.

bid her therefore that she help me] We almost seem to hear the undertone of ‘It is no use for me to tell her.’ Doubtless, had she been less ‘fretted’ (θορυβάζῃ), she would have felt that to leave her. alone and withdraw into the background while this eager hospitality was going on was the kindest and most unselfish thing which Mary could do.Luke 10:40. Περιεσπᾶτο) The Greek LXX. have often in Eccl. περισπασμὸς for ענין.—οὐ μέλει σοι, hast Thou no care?) What then? Something better is an object of care to Him. Martha herself acknowledged some degree of unhappiness as existing on her part.—ἡ ἀδελφή μου, my sister) An argument as it were drawn from an injustice done to her.—κατέλιπε) She does not say, suffers me, but, has left me. Hence it may be inferred that Mary had done something in the way of διακονία, or external service, perhaps before the arrival of the Master: but presently after betook herself to devoting her whole attention to the Master.—εἰπὲ, bid her) Martha did not dare herself to order Mary.Verse 40. - Came to him. Dr. Farrar very happily seizes the tone and temper of Martha. He renders the Greek words here, "but suddenly coming up." We see in this inimitable touch the little petulant outburst of jealousy in the loving, busy matron, as she hurried in with the words, "Why is Mary sitting there doing nothing?" Bid her therefore that she help me. "We almost seem to hear the undertone of 'It is no use for me to tell her.' Doubtless, had she been less' fretted,' she would have felt that to leave her (Martha) alone and withdraw into the background while this eager hospitality was going on, was the kindest and most unselfish thing which Mary could do." Was cumbered (περιεσπᾶτο)

Only here in New Testament. The Rev. might better have inserted in the text the marginal rendering, woe distracted. The verb means, literally, to draw from around (περί). Martha's attention, instead of centring round Jesus, was drawn hither and thither. The περί, around, in composition with the verb, is followed immediately by another περί, "about much serving."

Came to him (ἐπιστᾶσα)

Came up to him, as Rev., suddenly stopping in her hurry.

Hath left (κατέλιπεν)

The aorist, as Rev., did leave, indicating that she had been assisting before she was drawn off by Jesus' presence. Some read κατέλειπεν the imperfect, was leaving.

Help (συναντιλάβηται)

The verb consists of three elements: λαμβάνω, to take hold; σύν, together with; ἀντι, reciprocally - doing her part as Martha does hers. It might be paraphrased, therefore, take hold and do her part along with me. It occurs only here and Romans 8:26, of the Spirit helping our infirmities, where all the elements of the verb are strikingly exemplified.

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